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Hawaii Senate kills marijuana ‘decriminalization’ bill

Dan Nakaso

The full Hawaii Senate today killed a bill that would have “decriminalized” marijuana possession after an earlier effort to legalize adult recreational use this session also died.

Twenty-four of the 25 Senate members were present and 15 voted against the latest version of Senate Bill 2487, eight voted yes, and one senator voted yes with “reservations.”

Unlike the failed effort to make adult recreational use legal, several senators said today that SB 2487 contained none of the same “guard rails” to help protect the public, especially children, and would send the wrong message to young people that marijuana use would be acceptable in Hawaii while vaping and tobacco use are not.

State Sen. Sharon Moriwaki, (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana-Kakaako), voted no after saying that the bill would allow 36 more joints for the offense of promotion, sending “the wrong message to keiki.”

The 51-member House previously voted to decriminalize marijuana over the objections of 14 Democrats and all Republicans who voted.

Any amount of marijuana under an ounce would have been punishable by a fine of $25 under SB 2487. Anyone found guilty of possessing over an ounce would face a petty misdemeanor and two ounces or more could be punishable by a misdemeanor.

The bill included a new offense of smoking cannabis in public, punishable by a fine of $130.

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